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The Warsaw Voice » Business » March 27, 2013
Business & Economy
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What Future for Special Economic Zones?
March 27, 2013   
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A decision on the future of special economic zones in Poland is due to be made by the end of the year. Under existing regulations, the zones can operate only until 2020.

Janusz Piechociński, deputy prime minister and economy minister, says he hopes the government will give the zones a longer lease of life.

Special economic zones were set up in Poland almost 20 years ago under a law of 1994. They were to operate until 2014 but in 2008 parliament extended this time frame by another six years.

Now, a discussion is under way on whether this should be extended again.

The government has recently decided that the finance and economy ministers should jointly analyze the criteria for admitting specific types of businesses to the zones and the forms of state aid for investors in the zones permitted under European Union regulations.

The government will soon start working on regulations which propose that the zones should operate until the end of 2026. Former Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak argued that they should operate indefinitely.

The managers of the 14 special economic zones in Poland, entrepreneurs, local government officials and politicians have joined in the discussion. The goal is to work out new mechanisms of state aid as a way to attract investment. The biggest problem is a dispute between the economy ministry and the finance ministry, with the latter having so far blocked decisions on this issue. It may be difficult to reach a compromise because tax breaks for businesses operating in the zones mean lower income for the government.

But Piechociński says this is only one side of the coin. The other is the benefits resulting from the zones having a new lease of life, including stable jobs, the development of hi-tech innovative projects and orders for outside subcontractors working with companies in the zones.

The economy ministry says that the special economic zones have created around 250,000 jobs over the last two decades while investment in them exceeds zl.75 billion.
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